Springfield Armory calls its new XD-S "noticeably unnoticeable." That does not mean it's unmentionable, though.
Springfield Armory lengthened the barrel on its XD-S sub-compact firearm from 3.3 to 4 inches. That bumps the gun into the mid-size range, although it remains a single stack available in the popular concealed-carry calibers of 9 mm and .45 ACP. (This review was conducted on the 9 mm model.) An extra .7 of an inch makes a big difference, such as noticeably less felt recoil and a longer sight radius. In a concealed-carry gun, you want to be able to get back on the target as quickly as possible. As they say in defensive shooting training, accurate is good and fast is better. With very little muzzle lift, this gun allows you to shoot fast and accurately.
You can practice accuracy easily all day long because Springfield Armory included an extended magazine (called the X-Tension) that holds nine rounds. That means, while on the range, you can practice with the same gun you'll use for defensive purposes, but really work on your fundamentals. Unloaded, it weighs 25 ounces with the compact mag and 26 ounces with the X-Tension.
I shot 200 rounds of three types of ammunition through this gun at personal defense range, from a sandbag rest, at 7 yards. I also got up close, within 3 feet of my target. All groups-and I mean all groups-with all three types of ammo, fell between 1 and 2 inches.
By the way, this gun fits into holsters designed for the shorter model, providing the holster's toe is open. You may choose either the black polymer frame or the bi-tone, which features a matte stainless steel slide. Whether you choose the basic black or bi-tone, the Melonite finish on the black gets immersed in a salt bath nitriding process that offers protection against corrosion, which also is good since this gun is designed to be carried up close and personal.
I like the bi-tone look. It notches up the basic black a bit, and is harder to scratch. A stainless slide with a dovetail, white-dot rear sight and a red fiber-optic front sight made sight acquisition a bit easier for my eyes than it would be if it were located on plain black. It's also easier to see the loaded-chamber indicator. The only drawback of a shiny slide is that it's ... shiny. You have to decide whether you want to stay in the black, or if you want the boost in acquisition that a silver slide may offer.
Springfield Armory designs its line of XD guns to feature extra safety features, too, which are paramount in a carry gun. You cannot fire the trigger by dropping it or bumping it because the USA Action Trigger System locks the trigger in place until direct rearward pressure-more than 6 pounds-is applied. An additional grip safety, the Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) Action Trigger System, means that a shooter must firmly grip the pistol in order for it to fire. It's not difficult to grip, since the width is .9 inches. Another nice safety feature is the disassembly lever, which cannot be operated when there's a magazine in the pistol. When the disassembly lever is placed in the up position, you cannot insert a magazine in the pistol, either.
To make sure this gun fits your hand, it comes with two interchangeable back straps. Your hand around the grip will feel the exaggerated texture. Want to add a light or a laser? No problem, as the single-position Picatinny rail accepts accessories readily.
Ask gun gurus and they'll tell you that they love Springfield Armory's trigger design. The XD-S trigger pull measures somewhere between 5.5 and 7.7 pounds. It's a new design with a short reset, which, again, ensures that you can make follow-through shots faster. Springfield Armory is kind to lefties, too, and placed an ambidextrous magazine release within easy reach of whichever hand-support or weak-you choose to use.
The XD-S comes in a sturdy case with the following accessories: double mag pouch, paddle holster, locking cable, manual, X-Tension and flush stainless steel magazines. MSRP: $599 to $639
Springfield Armory's ‘Explore by Purpose' Guide
It seems that gun manufacturers are realizing the importance of education, not only for safety aspects, but also, for teaching the public how to choose the right handgun. If you're not sure about what type of firearm you need, you can check Springfield Armory's special "Explore by Purpose" section of its website. [http://www.springfield-armory.com/explore/] You may choose from the following categories: concealed carry, competition, multi-purpose, home defense, long range, mid range, short range. Print out these helpful pages on guns that you might be interested in trying, and take them to your local gun store. If you're fortunate, you may be able to find a store with a range that rents guns, so you can try it before you buy it and find the perfect fit.
Photos by Jason Baird
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